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The Settlers of Catan won board game of the year in 1995 for a reason. I'm not sure if there is an 'expansion pack of the year' award, but if there was, Seafarers would win hands down. I've played a lot (and I mean a LOT) of strategy board games in my time, and Seafarers combined with Settlers of Catan is the best over all strategy game I've ever played.

If you're looking at this expansion, you likely already are sold on Catan (or addicted!) and are looking to expand your game. You have a good number of options, including the 5-6 Player Extension, Seafarers, or Cities & Knights. All of them are solid, but if you were going to just get one, it would have to be Seafarers. Here is why:

1. Diversity of maps
The 5-6 player expansion allows you to play with more players, but it is basically the same game as the 3-4 player version. You don't get the addition of over a dozen different maps like you do with Seafarers. Knights and Cities is more of a different game altogether, and will be more unfamiliar than Seafarers. Don't get me wrong, the other two expansions are fantastic, but get this one first.

2. Strategy
Seafarers unlocks a whole new realm of strategy. You can now build boats, discover islands, expand outward, control the pirate (like the robber, but used on water hexes), and generally play the game a few new and unique ways that are extremely satisfying. Whether you're playing "Into the Desert," with its fantastic static map that forces very careful placement, or "Four Islands," with its emphasis on resource management and aggressive island expansion, or just the basic Seafarers map (a new twist on the standard 3-4 player map) the level of strategy has been increased over all in a fantastic variety of ways. You can play longer maps that penalize 'lucky' players who choose bad numbers, or maps with exotic things like the Gold resource hexes (which produce a resource of your choice!), or maps that reward a conservative or aggressive style: you have so many options you will never get bored!

3. Replay value
With so many strategies available, and with potentially millions of variations on the maps, Seafarers never gets old. Just the "Into the Desert" map kept me busy for months. All of the maps are great, unique, and a whole lot of fun to play.

A few caveats:

1. This is an expansion. It is not playable without The Settlers of Catan. Also, make sure you are buying an expansion of the same edition as your 3-4 player board!

2. I have both the 3rd and 4th generation boards, and I actually prefer the 3rd generation with its more subdued graphics. That is a matter of preference however, so if you have the 4th generation 3-4 game and like it, you will like this expansion's aesthetics just as much.

3. Some of the maps in the map book also require The Settlers of Catan 5-6 Player Extension. You don't NEED to have the 5-6 player expansion, but be aware that about 20% of the maps require Seafarers, the 3-4 player game, and the 5-6 player expansion.

Built on a masterpiece of a board game like Settlers of Catan, it's no wonder this expansion is simply fantastic. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It deserves 7 stars.
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on November 21, 2009
Seafarers of Catan offers a new dimension to the game: the ability to build a trading route to outlying islands across the vast ocean and settle there.

This expansion requires The Settlers of Catan to play, and is equipped with 4 sets of ships, additional resource hexes, many sea hexes, additional number tokens, new harbor tokens, a pirate ship, and an extensive rules and scenarios book.

The expansion uses much of the same rules as The Settlers of Catan. The biggest addition is that coastal settlements/cities can serve as links between the mainland and neighboring islands. A trade route of ships can be build from a coastal settlement/city along the coastline, or out to sea, much like building roads on land. 1 ship costs 1 Lumbar and 1 Wool to build.

In addition, once per turn. 1 ship on the end of an open trade route can be moved to a new location, as long as it remains connected to the trade route or to a coastal settlement/city. This game mechanic increases players' abilities to expand and explore when they are ready to.

Settling on islands can be beneficial as they may provide resources that are scarce on the mainland, or it can enable (a) player(s) to capitalize on significant (and sometimes) unrivaled production of certain resources. This is important because ports are typically located on the mainland in most scenarios, and will become extremely useful later on.

There are also 2 Gold Hexes provided. Gold Hexes provide players who have built there with resources of their choice when the number on the token is rolled. Gold Hexes are located on outlying islands, and are usually worth the effort and resources to reach and settle there.

Due to the extra cost of building ships, most games are played to 12 or more Victory Points. In addition, "The Longest Road" card is aptly renamed as "The Longest Trade Route", which includes the longest chain of unbroken ships and roads.

The Robber has a new partner called the Pirate Ship. When a 7 is rolled, either the Robber or Pirate Ship can be moved. The Pirate Ship serves to prevent further extension of marine trading routes (i.e. no ships can be built along the sea hex border upon which The Pirate Ship is located). Adjacent ships cannot move away from the hex either. In addition, the turn player can take one resource card from a player whose ships are located next to the Pirate Ship.

With the option to move either the Robber or the Pirate Ship, players can elect to keep the Robber on a desired hex instead of being forced to move it. This can severely diminish a player's lead.

Like Settlers of Catan, Seafarers takes the most exciting aspect of the game and expands upon it. Seafarers offers a virtually unlimited number of board layout possibilities. The scenario booklet included profiles several scenarios such as: Heading for New Shores, The Four Islands, and The Fog Island (and a few more).

Heading for New Shores employs the normal Settlers of Catan board, and adds outlying islands, which include the popular Gold Hexes.

In The Four Islands scenario, players start on 1 or 2 "home islands" and earn additional points for settling on the others. Certain resources may be more abundant on the non "home islands". In addition, the various ports are distributed among the islands, providing additional incentive to expand.

In The Fog Island, players begin on the mainland and build out to unknown, uncharted territory covered by fog. As ships extend from the coast, face down and randomly shuffled hexes are revealed as land or sea (if it is a resource producing land hex, 1 resource of that type is provided as a discovery bonus). 1 random number token is then assigned to the newly discovered resource producing island hex.

Of course, players are free to create their own "New World" as they like and employ any or all of the new game aspects introduced.

I highly suggest Seafarers for those who have only played Settlers and are seeking a modest game addition to enhance their Catan experience. The ability to generate new maps and scenarios is what keeps the game exciting for me, and it has been highly rewarding for me and my friends to expand and explore.

If you are on the fence, search for Seafarers of Catan. You will see many images of how much fun people have had while playing this expansion.

I hope you found this review to be helpful. Thank you.
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on July 2, 2014
I am mixed on my thoughts about the Seafarers Expansion. I'd give it five stars for fun and additional strategies and playability, and subtract three for really poor design and manufacture of several of the components.

Pros:
* The addition of water and ships, and a smaller main island, make your typical base-game Catan strategy inadequate; I really like having the additional requirement of setting sail and exploring other islands to win, and it keeps the old game from getting anywhere even close to repetitive.
* Custom scenarios for each game. Seafarers comes with pre-designed scenarios that let you play out the 'history' of the Island of Catan, and you can easily play them over and over without being bored - in this case, it's like the base game: You get one big island every time. In these scenarios you get several smaller islands every time. Plus, you *can* create your own maps - you aren't absolutely locked into the same boards every time.
* Quality, when it's present, is the same as the base game, for the Meeples (ships) and island hexes... but there's an additional point here and it's not a good one:

Cons
* I was incredibly disappointed with the quality of several components of the expansion overall. The ship and the additional hexes are the same sturdy quality as the base game, but the border pieces that expand the board are very poorly fitting. I have at least 1/8" inch of empty space between many of the hexes once the board is assembled. This makes it really hard to play without continually being worried about upsetting the board and the settlements, and even then some hexes just slide out of place and you have to readjust and put everything back. It's worse quality than you'd get in a game that costs *half as much*. Almost $40 for such poorly fitting, poorly designed components is really hard to take.
* The additional "Cards" or "Tiles" that let you play The Wonders of Catan scenario are *nothing like the Longest Road and Largest Army cards. These Wonders of Catan "cards" are simply printed inside the instructions booklet and you're told to cut them out... of the flimsy, easily-torn paper the instructions are written on. For a game of this price and stature, it really, really irks me they require players to deface the otherwise good looking instructions book.

The upshot is that if you simply want an expansion to the rules and don't care about quality, this will be more than you could want and it adds a lot of fun to an already wonderful game.

If you expect good quality and sturdy construction to match your base game, you will b really disappointed - especially when they charge almost the same price for much lower quality materials.

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Note that I purchased this item with my own money - I am not a member of the Vine Voice or freebie program on Amazon.
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on August 3, 2016
Our family loves Catan and this expansion is just fantastic. It’s everything you love about the original Catan, with additional ships and islands. The expansion allows you to customize the game size depending on how much Catan you want to play. With Seafarers, you’re no longer confined to a single island, you can now venture out with shipping lines to settle new island sectors. There is also now a pirate who works in almost the same way as the robber. In addition to allowing the player to steal a resource from the pirate’s victim, the pirate also prevents further expansion on any of the edges of the hex that it’s placed on. This is a good way to slow down your competition. The ship pieces are the same quality as the original game and the colors match the original pieces. The resource sectors are also a good match with the original. The brick sectors look a little different from the original, but not so different that you can’t tell it’s a brick sector. My only complaint, if you could call it that, is that the ocean border pieces don’t fit together perfectly, and sometimes slide apart from each other, causing the internal sectors in the rest of the game to shift slightly out and away from each other. This is easily solved by just being a little careful with the pieces and the dice, to prevent shift and slide. With all these pieces, though, I can definitely see why people need a single box to hold all their Catan expansion pieces and parts. We had to purchase one ourselves, keeping in mind that we don’t have all the expansions yet, and will need expandable room to add the others as we buy them. All in all, we really enjoy playing the Seafarers expansion.
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VINE VOICEon June 22, 2012
Catan is the game that I introduced to my friends as a gateway into "real" board gaming. They've been used to the usual Monopoly and Scrabble, and some didn't even like board games, but after this one everyone was hooked. I've since introduced Dominion and some other games, and I can't wait till they've moved on to games like Twilight Struggle, Eclipse, War of the Ring, Puerto Rico, Cosmic Encounter, etc.
Anyway.

I've never played anything beyond the base game, but ever since getting the game on the iPhone along with the Seafarers expansion, I can't now play the base game with*out* Seafarers. It adds so much more depth, variety, and time (a good thing) to the game that I enjoy the introduction of the pirate ship, islands, and gold tiles immensely. However, Mayfair games really goes skimpy with the materials used to make the game.
I learned this much from the base game, but Seafarers just got me irritated. I introduced the expansion to my friends, but having to assemble and fudge with the pieces so much actually detracted them from the experience. I'm not sure if it was just late in the night, or whether they really didn't like the expansion, but the shoddiness of the materials really made me angry that they lost the joy I had playing the same game.

Oh well. Hopefully next time's the charmer.
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on August 20, 2015
We have played the 'regular' Catan for a few years now and had heard the game expansions would add some different aspects. Seafarers did add that extra element and made for interesting game play however it still takes as long to set up as the original just start your game early so you can possibly be done before everyone falls asleep. It has different scenarios you can set up which I liked. NOTE: you must get the same version of Seafareres as your original Catan- I got Seafarers for Christmas a long time ago and bought adapters and everything and couldn't get it to mesh with my Catan game and finally broke down and my frugal self bought the correct one. I liked the sea part and the 'mystery' tiles you had a chance to draw. I also thought I would be smart and put on the back of the tiles if it was Seafarers- Seafarers expansion for 5-6 players and you can't do that bc of the 'mystery' tiles- that was me being uptight and trying to keep the pieces in 'order'. Would rec esp if you've been playing original Catan and need to add some spice to it.
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on December 8, 2014
If you like Settlers but feel like you've played it to death and want to spice it up a bit, I would recommend giving Seafarers a try. Two things you should know:

- With this expansion your maximum number of players is still four. There is a separate expansion for Seafarers to increase it to 5-6 players.

- The game takes longer to play. You can usually finish a 3- or 4-player game of Settlers in an hour, which is one of the aspects of the game that I like. Seafarers expands the map and increases the number of points needed to win; our first four-player game took about three hours. Once you get used to the game it should take less time, but I'd allot at least 2 hours of playing time.

Seafarers includes multiple game scenarios, so you get a lot of options out of this expansion.
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on September 24, 2012
Recently my board game group decided to upgrade from the basic game of Settlers, and try some of the expansion sets, and our experience with Seafarers was pretty good, if not outstanding. Seafarers does little in the way of changing how the game is played per say, in other words there are little rule changes to go over (unlike Cities & Knights!). What it does is change the play board so that instead of having one continuous island, you now have multiple smaller ones with traversable water hexes between them. The three big additions are ships, the pirate, and the gold hexes. Ships work as roads that can be placed along the edges of the water hexes, and they can also be moved with some restrictions. They also make sheep a more valuable resource then they are in the basic game. The pirate is additional robber that haunts the water hexes, when a 7 is rolled the player is given the choice of moving the robber, or the pirate. Instead of shutting down a resource, the pirate closes a hex to water travel, preventing the placement of ship and locking all existing ones in place. Lastly gold hexes (if used, they are optional by default) are special hexes that generate 1 or 2 of any resource of the player's choice if they are developed.

By default, Seafarers is intended to be played using a pre-set hex setup, as opposed to the completely random setup of the basic game. The instructions actually include a full campaign of different setups that you can play over 8+ games. Some of these campaign games are fun, though in my own opinion they make for a rather dull meta-story. Instructions are also present for a random generation, which is what my group uses most of the time, with some minor tweaking because we often combine this and Cities & Knights. Most of the time when we play, we use the maximum space allotment (with both of the gold hexes), and one or two islands designated as starting zones.

Overall is Seafarers a worthy investment? Yes! It's not the best expansion in my opinion, but it does offer your group a fun and simple way to change up your regular Catan routine. One of the best reasons to get Seafarers on it's own is that it actually changes the game very little, the basic strategy and pacing of the game remains simple & static. This is completely unlike the Cities & Knights set and some of the Traders & Barbarians scenarions, which radically alter the way the game works, and in many cases require you to re-learn from the ground up.
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on July 12, 2013
Our family enjoys Catan and this expansion has been a great addition to our game nights. The extra sea hexes make the board playing area larger, and the addition of shipbuilding adds to the exploration aspect of the game. I also like the Gold hex which can be used for a resource of the players choice every time the correct number is rolled. After playing this game for a couple of months, then switching over to our other expansion (Traders and Barbarians) I realized how much smaller the original Catan board game area now seems. Some scenarios in this game are better than others - I'm rather partial to the "Fog Islands" because it has the element of the unknown - meaning that you don't know what the terrain hex is until you build a ship to it and it is revealed.

My one complaint is that the manufacturers are pretty cheap with the game pieces. When you get to Scenario 8; "The Wonders of Catan" you find out that you are supposed to cut out or copy the 5 Wonders cards from the manual! Seriously? Would it have killed them to make 5 sturdy cardboard cards instead of making us ruin the manual by taking a pair of scissors to it? Don't get me wrong, we are enjoying this expansion, but C'mon don't be so cheap! We made color copies of the page than laminated the cards - but we shouldn't have to do that. And while I'm at it, they should have made a "Longest Trade Route" card instead of making us recycle the "Longest Road" card from the original game. I love Catan, but when you spent $35+ for a game, you shouldn't have to rip up your manual or make copies IMHO. Other than that gripe - the gameplay is fun and this is a definite buy for anyone who is looking to expand their Catan universe.
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on March 11, 2017
This is a great expansion to a great game. It essentially is the same game, but with a few additions and some new rules. If you like the original game, but want to change things up a bit, then this is for you.
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